Wednesday, May 18, 2016

ICU joins the Unicode Consortium

ICU ProjectToday we are welcoming the ICU project into the Unicode Consortium.

Every smartphone and laptop uses the Unicode encoding and Unicode CLDR data for language support: from Arabic to Japanese to Zulu — and even plain English. The Unicode Consortium provides the data, but has not provided software to directly use that data, until now.

The ICU (International Components for Unicode) project has long provided software that implements the Unicode data and algorithms. ICU is a mature, very widely deployed set of C/C++ and Java software libraries, open-sourced since 1999 under the stewardship of IBM. When you see a date or number written in your language on your smartphone, for example, or a list of sorted names, the formatting and sorting are done with ICU.

There has long been a close working relationship between the various Unicode Consortium committees and the ICU team, with many people working on Unicode projects as well as ICU. That has ensured that Unicode data and algorithms can be effectively and quickly implemented.

IBM made the decision to transfer ICU to the Unicode Consortium so that ICU could benefit from the formal and open governance that the Unicode Consortium offers. “IBM has a long history in our commitment to open standards as a driver of innovation for our customers worldwide,” said Helena Chapman, IBM Globalization Executive. By moving ICU under the Unicode Consortium, it provides a cross-industry, open source collaboration that will drive greater consistency and interoperability across computing platforms to the benefit of global technology users world-wide. IBM has been an active member of the Unicode Consortium since its inception, and is pleased to see this further consolidation of foundational open source globalization standards.

The ICU team has become a new Consortium technical committee, along with the other Unicode committees. ICU will be released under the Unicode open-source license (similar to the previous license), just like the Unicode Character Database and the CLDR data. For users of ICU, we’ll try to make this transition as smooth as possible.

The Unicode Consortium and the ICU team would like to thank IBM for many years of project stewardship, as well as for major past and ongoing contributions to the project.

For more information, see